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Uniland, Blue Cardinal complete Elmwood-Hertel purchases

Uniland Development Co. and partner Blue Cardinal Capital have completed their purchase of 20 acres of prime land at the intersection of Elmwood and Hertel avenues, setting up their ambitious project to create a new mixed-use destination in North Buffalo.

The Amherst-based developer and the Buffalo private-equity firm late last month bought 11 more acres on Elmwood, Hertel and Norris avenues from the Deni family in three separate transactions, totaling $2.12 million.

Specifically, the properties include 742 Hertel, 1984 Elmwood and 15, 19, 33, 35, 107 and 125 Norris. Those consist of vacant commercial and industrial land, two warehouses, a single-family residential parcel and a collision shop.

That follows the duo's previous purchase of nine acres from the Deni family last October, for $5 million, as part of the larger commercial real estate transaction that just closed.

The partners are hoping to capitalize on the existing business activity on Elmwood, the revitalization of Hertel, and the surge of redevelopment activity in the surrounding area, particularly just south of the intersection of the two big streets.

Map showing the area of purchases by Uniland and Blue Cardinal.

Rocco Termini already converted three former industrial and commercial buildings on Elmwood and Grote Street into the Foundry, Houk and Arco Lofts, and is now focusing his attention on several business incubator projects on nearby Chandler Street. Karl Frizlen and Jason Yots are also targeting Chandler Street for residential apartments.

And the former Pierce-Arrow Administration Building at 1695 Elmwood is being converted by Dr. Gregory Daniel's Nidus Development into more than 100 apartments and restaurants, while Nick Sinatra aims to turn the former Pierce-Arrow Factory Complex on Great Arrow into 72 apartments.

For their part, Uniland and Blue Cardinal are planning a mixed-use concept that will include retail, office, industrial and residential space. The companies have not revealed details of their plans, which officials said are still in flux while they talk with potential tenants.

But they're seeking a large retail tenant – such as a drugstore, grocery store or entertainment venue – to anchor the main intersection and drive the rest of the redevelopment around it.

Most of the focus has been on three properties: a 4.3-acre parcel at 1880 Elmwood on the north side of Hertel; a 3.9-acre vacant lot at 1820 Elmwood, south of Hertel; and a smaller triangular-shaped lot at 1934 Elmwood. Officials have also met with the community to gauge the interests and goals of neighbors.

In the meantime, Uniland removed two buildings on the properties that either could not be saved or could not be reused. In an emergency demolition in December, the developers took down the vacant and condemned former Dow Building at 1820 Elmwood, which had been ravaged in a fire two years earlier.

The one-story brick-and-steel industrial structure, located on two acres, had been vacant since the former owners removed the portion of the building that suffered heavy damage in an April 2015 fire.

A second building, a damaged 64-year-old warehouse at 766-800 Hertel, came down about two months later. Erected in 1954 and formerly occupied by Denny Machine, the 50,152-square-foot concrete-block warehouse had "numerous" leaks in its roof, so the building had sustained water damage for several years.

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